04.11.2014 § 1 Comment
Success stories seem so few and far between in Bulgaria these days, so it is extremely heartening to be able to report some good news. This past month, alongside the colossal scandal of Bulgaria’s Corporate Commercial Bank imploding to the tune of a 2 billion Euro deficit, some great things have happened in spite of the usual grey mass of doom and gloom. Sofia’s iconic Lion’s Bridge just reopened after extensive renovations, the latest in a string of long-overdue infrastructure improvements presided over by Sofia’s most successful mayor in decades, Ms. Yordanka Fandukova. Four Bulgarian entrepreneurs just sold their hugely successful homegrown software company Telerik to Progress Software for $262.5 million. Finally, Dextrophobia Rooms, a real-life escape game business created by seven dreamer friends in their spare time, is neck-to-neck with St. Alexander Nevski cathedral as the best reviewed attraction on TripAdvisor in Sofia, barely six months after opening.
What is Dextrophobia and is it worth seeing? Read on!
08.09.2014 § 2 Comments
Photographer Lyubomir Sergeev asks a painful question: would the treasured heroes of Bulgaria’s past stab themselves in the heart or shoot themselves if they could see what their country is like today? In painstaking detail, he recreates the dress and time periods of six great Bulgarian men and creates a new kind of portrait: one that not only inspires, but also forces us to think harder, to be better.
07.09.2014 § 2 Comments
Bulgaria’s national day is deservedly March 3, 1878. After almost 500 years under the rule of the Ottoman Empire and a two-year war of liberation championed by Russia, a treaty signed on that day in the Istanbul suburb of San Stefano restored Bulgaria as a powerful state on the Balkans encompassing all the lands populated by Bulgarians and ruled by the idealistic Alexander I Battenberg, grandson of Queen Victoria and nephew to the Russian emperor. However, San Stefano Bulgaria was hacked up by the delegate nations at the Congress of Berlin only three months later. Ethnically Bulgarian territories (in striped red on the map) were divided into three distinct regions: the Principality of Bulgaria encompassed only Moesia and the Sofia region, Thrace became semi-autonomous under the name Eastern Rumelia and the status of Macedonia and parts of Thrace remained unchanged: they returned to Ottoman rule and their populations were brutally punished for the short gasp of freedom.
In this manner the Great Powers of Europe sowed the seeds for countless conflicts on the Balkans. Because of the Congress of Berlin, Bulgaria would spend decades struggling to once again unify all the lands considered ethnically Bulgarian in its borders. This struggle would cost it two national catastrophes and sour its relationships with Serbia, Greece and Romania, who’d believe (not entirely without cause) Bulgaria to be motivated by hegemony.
05.09.2014 § 1 Comment
After a five-year, good-natured rivalry with three other cities, my birthplace of Plovdiv has been selected as Bulgaria’s official entrant into the European Capital of Culture program. The other European Capital of Culture for 2019 will be in Italy, where Caglieri, Lecce, Matera, Perugia, Ravenna and Siena are competing in the final round.
Out of 8 original candidates in Bulgaria (Burgas, Gabrovo, Plovdiv, Ruse, Shumen, Sofia, Varna and Veliko Tarnovo), four finalists were selected to submit detailed proposals and to begin implementing strategies and programs towards becoming Capital of Culture. Any one of these cities is well worth a visit.
Continuously inhabited for close to 6000 years, Plovdiv is the third-oldest city in Europe (following Athens and Argos). Throughout its long history it has had multiple stints as an important crossroads city. Notably, as Trimontium to the Romans, Plovdiv was the most important Roman city in the province of Thrace, as it lay on the Via Diagonalis arterial road for the empire. Cobbled Roman streets, theatres, villas, and an entire stadium can be seen there, layered with Ottoman-era and Revival-era homes. The oldest mosque in Europe outside of Moorish Spain, Djumaya mosque, lies at the centre of the city.
28.08.2014 § Leave a comment
[Read the English version here.]
На 27 август 2014 г. загубихме поета Валери Петров. Загубихме писателя, драматурга, преводача, хуманиста, мислителя, примера Валери Петров.
И тъй разкошно-звездна бе нощта,
че всекидневните неща,
със своите “Чудесно!”, “Цар си!”, “Браво!”
във бягство се отдръпваха стремглаво.
чувствах се голям под свода гъст
– а бяхме уж нищожества, уж атоми –
и всичко беше мир околовръст,
и красота изпълваше душата ми.
Из “Августовска нощ”
С поезията си той умееше да предизвиква в един куплет искрен смях и нежна тъга, да ни опише и есенния хлад, и топлия пролетен ветрец. С преводите си на Шекспир той положи в краката ни невероятната красота и благозвучие на българския стих и създаде нещо повече от превод: сюжетите и картините на Барда на нашия собствен мелодичен език. Със сценария на “Рицар без броня” той ни разкри най-наболелите язви в нашето общество през погледа на едно невинно, все още безгрижно дете. С “Пет приказки” той подари на децата ни въображението да покоряват планини, да играят с еленчета и да изследват дъното на безбрежния океан. Той никога не надрасна детската си фантазия, но и геният му никога не залиня, не отслабна, чак до края.
28.08.2014 § 1 Comment
On August 27, 2014 we lost the poet Valeri Petrov. The writer, the translator, the humanist, the thinker, the example Valeri Petrov.
And oh! So gorgeous-starry was the night,
That our everyday plights,
With their “Wonderful”s, “Hurrah”s and “Bravo”s,
Head over heels took off, retreating.
For I felt large under the starry dome
– and are we naught but atoms with no goal? –
And all around was peace and calm,
And beauty filled my soul.
With his poetry, he could make us laugh and cry within a single stanza, experience the chill of autumn or the breath of spring. In translating Shakespeare, he laid out the staggering beauty of Bulgarian verse before us and created something more: the stories and images of the Bard in our own melodious tongue. With the script for “Knight Without Armour” (YouTube link), he put his finger on our worst societal sores through the eyes of a carefree, as-yet-unburdened child. With “Five Tales”, he gave our children mountains, deer friends and the ocean floor to imagine and explore. He never grew up, and yet his genius never faltered, never waned, until the end.
24.08.2014 § 1 Comment
[Reposted in honour of the 137th anniversary of the battle of Shipka Pass]
It is well known that in history often insignificant circumstances can change the fates of nations. For example, the battle for Shipka pass in August 1877, the trial by fire of the newly formed Bulgarian volunteer corps and its most costly victory, was fought because of a sabre. A beautiful sabre, made of gold and encrusted with diamonds, but still, merely a sabre. « Read the rest of this entry »